I Believe in Jesus… Ascended

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The Old Testament book of Leviticus lays out detailed instructions for the High Priest on how he is to prepare and present the offerings to the Lord. The details included the specific clothing he wore, how he should wash himself before putting on the garments, the type of animals were to be used for the ritual, and how each was to be treated. Only after he had successfully completed all of those preparations could he enter the Holy of Holies and apply the blood of the sacrifice to the Mercy Seat. This ritual was repeated every year.

The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is not only qualified to be our High Priest, but He has also, by His own blood, completed the final sacrifice for our sins. Now, as our High Priest, He enters heaven to present His own blood to the Father.

Parenthetically, in his book Jesus Ascended, Scott Douglas makes an interesting observation. Remember that the Mercy Seat was essentially the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. The lid also contained two cherubim, one on either side of the Mercy Seat. Compare that to John 20:12 where Mary “saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.”  Coincidence? Perhaps, but it’s a compelling visual of His blood having been presented to the Father.[1]

But why is the ascension important to us? James Dodds explains,

Ascension is the completion of Resurrection. “If he were on earth,” says the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, “he should not be a priest.” No part of His work would have corresponded to that of the high priest, who, when he had offered up sacrifice, passed into the holy place with the blood of the victim, and laid it upon the altar. The act thus foreshadowed in the type was accomplished when our great High Priest passed into the heavens, and “entered not into the holy places made with hands, which are the figure of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”[2]

How comforting to think that Jesus, who “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” and who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,” is now in Heaven interceding for us. What an astonishing thought.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

[1] Scott Douglas, Jesus Ascended. What Does That Mean?: Jesus’ Final 40-Day Lesson (Kindle Edition), p. 23.

[2] James Dodds, Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, ebook, p. 55.

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